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Pati Jinich mango salsa

When asked recently whether I was a collector of some sort, I thought of my grandmother’s cabinet that holds hundreds of elephant figurines — more than 60 years’ worth, from many places. And she’s still adding to the lot. So my response was no.

Then a few days later I realized that I am a collector: of foods tasted throughout my life, or at least the memories of them. This is especially true of salsas. I have countless papers scattered on my desk with notes about the names of them, the places I ate them, their ingredients, the cooks who made them and, when generously given, directions on how to re-create them.

When the mood strikes, I search to find that precise note (which may be in a coat pocket, bag or drawer). Or I sit down with eyes closed and try to remember the feel of the sauce.

When all else fails, I make one up.

If you look in my refrigerator, you will find a salsa. That is mainly because my husband is always asking for one but also because salsas can pump up the beauty and richness of any meal. To me, salsas are one of the exceptional elements of Mexican cooking: delicious, accommodating and versatile. Among the many possibilities, we eat salsas on top of rice, beans, potatoes; alongside meats, chicken, seafood and vegetables; spooned inside or outside all sorts of dishes such as tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas; scooped with a piece of toast and spooned straight from the container.

I wouldn’t dare guess how many salsas there are in Mexican cooking as I am sure to be wrong, and the cuisine keeps evolving. But I can safely say that if I were to give you a different salsa to taste each month, my lifetime, however long, wouldn’t give us enough time to cover the choices.

Salsas can be eaten from morning till night, and are known to be especially savored after midnight when the food stands on Mexican streets — and some in Los Angeles, as well — serve their secret-recipe salsas with antojos and quick dishes. The late-night crowds crave them.

Some are made with dozens of ingredients, prepared in laborious ways. Others use a few easy-to-find ingredients and can be assembled in minutes. For me, the latter sound like the perfect salsas for summer.

Three of my no-cook favorites, from my ever-growing and scattered collection, are a raw tomatillo and chipotle salsa, made lush with the addition of avocado and fresh cheese; a luxurious mango salsa with slivers of red onion, jalapeño and chopped cilantro; and a versatile, ancho chili pickled salsa, which keeps in the fridge for months.

If you are so inclined, please leave comments online about the accompanying recipes (or share with me whatever food-related things you tend to gather). I will collect them all.

This article was written for and published by The Washington Post on August 5, 2009 The Washington Post.

Salsa Verde Cruda con Chipotle

Serves: makes 2 cups


1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and quartered

1 medium garlic clove, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion

Leaves and thin stems from 4 or 5 stems of cilantro, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons sauce from canned chipotle chiles en adobo; plus 1 canned chipotle chile (optional)

3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste

Flesh from 1 large Mexican avocado, cut into large dice (optional)

8 ounces queso fresco, cotija or farmers cheese, cut into large dice (optional)

To Prepare

Combine the quartered tomatillos, garlic, onion, cilantro, sauce from the canned chipotle chiles, the canned chipotle chile, if desired, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth, then transfer to a 2-cup container with a tight-fitting lid.

At this point, the salsa can be covered and refrigerated for a day.

When ready to serve, transfer to a serving bowl; add the avocado and cheese, if desired. Toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust salt as needed.


Pico de Gallo de Mango

Serves: makes 4 1/2 cups

Pico de Gallo de Mango" alt="FRESH MANGO SALSA
Pico de Gallo de Mango" />


1/2 medium red onion, cut into very thin slivers (about 1/3 cup)

Juice from 2 limes (about 4 tablespoons)

2 1/2 pounds ripe mangoes (about 4), peeled and cut into large dice

1 large jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons, or more to taste)

Leaves from 4 stems cilantro, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste

To Prepare

Combine the onion and lime juice in a mixing bowl; toss to coat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Combine the mango, jalapeno, cilantro, oil and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add the onion and lime juice mixture when it's ready and toss to mix well. Taste and add salt or jalapeno as needed.


Salsa de Chile de Ancho Encurtido

Serves: makes 2 cups


3 ounces dried ancho chile peppers, preferably Orale brand

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

1/2 cup safflower or vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar, or more to taste

To Prepare

Make a slit in each dried ancho chili pepper, then remove and discard the stems, seeds and veins. Rinse the remaining peppers lightly with cold water. Use kitchen scissors to cut the peppers crosswise into thin strips and place them in a mixing bowl.

Add the onion, garlic, vinegars, oil, salt and sugar; toss to mix well. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to several months. Serve chilled or at room temperature.



I made the ancho chilie pickled salsa and it gets better as the days go by. Thank you Patti!

Pati I love your show I watch late on wednesdays
I am going to cook your chicken in a tomatillo, chipotle and brown sugar today it really looks delicious on tv. Your cooking reminds me of my abuellas cooking she has passed on so many tips similiar to yours. God bless

Thank you for watching, Marlinda! Please let me know how the chicken turns out!!

Hi Pati,
I love your recipes and have tried and cooked many of them already. I’ve baked one of your cake’s for several social occasions already and always come out a winner!! I love you for that.
I can’t wait to prepare these salsas and surprise my family with new refreshing summer tastes.
Take care and I wish you continued success in your endeavors.

Hola Rosario, Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me! It is lovely to hear your kind words, and I’m so happy you are using my recipes. Please let me know how you like the salsas (hopefully, will be as successful as the cakes!). All my best to you…

Hi Pati,

Salsas all sound good, I usually make a simple pico de gallo and add mangos sometimes! Always very refreshing! I love to watch your show!

Woman can not live on salsa alone, but I intend to try!


I admit I was suspicious about the Mango Salsa as what I’ve had in the past was overly sweet and frankly, disgusting. However, I tried it and was very, very pleasantly surprised. It’s fantastic! I made it, the pico de gallo, and guacamole. Normally the guacamole is gone in a heartbeat, but not this time, the Mango Salsa was gobbled up almost as soon as I set it down! Definitely going in the ‘save’ pile among my recipes!

Hola Peggy, I’m so happy you tried my mango salsa! GREAT to hear everyone enjoyed it!!

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